Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Seattle saga: The Main Event

Finally, the main event of the week: Auntie Choly's jubilee. First, a little background: Auntie Choly is actually my great aunt--my Lolo's (that's Filipino for grandpa) youngest sister. She's a nun and I'm sure she has a holy soul, but she has a fabulous sense of humor and loves to tease. My dad used to call her the "Old Bat" and she'd dish it right back at him. (A lot of our family, in fact, has nicknames for Auntie Choly. She's been called "Old Bat", "Holy Choly", and Auntie Tekla...which means Auntie Poop in Filipino. No, it's not a nice nickname. Yes, our family loves to give each other a hard time).

When I was in high school, I was pretty sure I wanted to be a nun as well. Auntie Choly wasn't so sure, so she invited me to spend a few weeks with her in Seattle living the glamorous life of a Sister of Providence. During this "internship", she taught me how to cook lumpia. Needless to say, I didn't end up being a nun (that's Joe's fault), but I still can roll a mean lumpia.

When Amy and I went to Seattle U, Auntie Choly took special care to watch out for us. She'd pick us up and take us out to dinner, afterwards dropping us off at our dorm room with loads of snacks to eat while we were studying.

A. Chols made Amy and I feel special and well-loved. Later, we realized it wasn't because we were her favorite grandnieces, but rather, that she treated all of her many nieces and nephews/grandnieces and grandnephews with the same care. So, we all decided to join together and celebrate her jubilee this year with a family reunion. (If you haven't family-reunioned or family-vacationed with 30 Filipinos, you haven't lived. Joe would pipe up with suggestions about our trip early on in the planning process and I'd start to tell him why that wouldn't work, but then figured it would just be easier to let him see for himself. Soon, my catch phrase was, "You'll see. You'll see what it's like to vacation with the Filipinos"...but that's a topic for another blog post.)

Since Amy, Joe, and I are slaves to early bedtime/naptime or early pregnancy (in Amy's case), we couldn't party it up late at night with the rest of the crazy Filipinos, so we ended up seeing most of the gang for the first time at the church the morning of the jubilee.

Even though I may have not seen some of my cousins/aunts/uncles for 15 years, even though I may not have even met them before, we walk into the church and are immediately swarmed with the chaotic, loud welcome of our family. Warm hugs and kisses are exchanged with introductions, family members shout hellos across the worship space, babies are squeezed (even Andie's infamous stink-eye was no deterrent). We are a large moving mass of teasing, hugging, chatting, and laughing.

I'm sure it was a wonderful Mass with a beautiful homily about these Sisters and their service. I'm not really sure because I spent most of the Mass with Andie being cranky and then suddenly falling asleep while I stood in the back, swaying (no easy feat in 3 inch heels!).

Joe spent most of the Mass keeping tabs on Sam.
But, after Mass, there was a lovely luncheon and we went across the street to the park to play outside.

After the park, Joe and I noticed it was naptime and shuttled our kids back to the hotel where we all took a family nap for the next three glorious hours. The rest of the Filipinos continued the revelry with amazing energy: a group went swimming, a group went sight-seeing, a group went shopping.

That evening, we all met back at Old Spaghetti Factory for a dinner in honor of Auntie Choly. We roasted Auntie Choly for three hours straight. And, at the end, she addressed us all.

"You people" (that's what she always calls us with a tone of mild exasperation) "you people never treat me with any respect." (Lots of hooting and whooping).

"But when I looked at all of you people there at the church today and thought of all the effort it took for you to come here to celebrate today....I just felt love. I felt your love. It means so much to me. And I thank you for that."

Not a dry eye in the house. We love you, Auntie Chols!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Seattle saga: The Ferry

Friday afternoon, we departed Bremerton via ferry and headed toward Seattle to meet up with the Cletos. defines ferry as "a commerical service with terminals and boats for transporting persons, automobiles, etc. across a river or other small body of water."

Sam Kaufman defines ferry as "a BIG, HUGE boat! You drive your car on and then you get out and you run around and around and around! Then you have a picnic [we ate some candy I'd hoarded in the diaper bag for just such an occasion] outside on the benches!

Then, Mom says 'Time to get in the car' and you get in and watch a movie."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Seattle saga: The Princess and the Pirate

Ever since we went camping with the Gemmers, Sam has been asking about his "cousin Daisy" intermittently. I think he thinks all young children outside of daycare are his cousins, which just proves he is part Filipino when it comes to defining family. Anyway, I digress...

Sam and Daisy played beautifully together, even though they had to compromise to find play that suited both genders. It meant Sam played with a tea set one afternoon and Daisy was constantly subjected to "arresting bad guys"--Sam's latest game.

At the park, Daisy wanted the play equipment to be a castle, where she--a royal princess--dwelt. Sam wanted it to be a pirate ship. After a minimal amount of whining and complaining, they settled on a game: Sam would be the pirate and rescue Daisy, the princess. Both were happy. The game lasted awhile and we eventually went down to explore the beach...

...where Daisy picked up a sword and became a pirate herself.

Check out that pirate "Aarrgh!"!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Seattle saga: Bremerton

Deanna had to shoot a wedding one morning while we were there, so Darin and I took the kids to a local park.

It was a little cooler weather than the 90+ degree Lewiston heat, so I was glad we'd brought along some layers. Always one to appreciate vintage clothes, Sam is wearing a Mariners' pullover that once belonged to my now-15-year old cousin, Hailey. Ah, how time flies.

Anyway, I digress. The kids had a fun time.

After running ourselves ragged at the playground, we ventured down to the beach. Sam and Daisy played so well together and Dani and Andie each enjoyed their own pursuits. Here's Dani, digging with a shovel.

And, here's Andie, sampling the sand. (Honestly, that kid tastes everything!) After our beach adventure, it was off to McDonald's for lunch and home for naps.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Seattle saga (part one)

As I mentioned before, we recently returned from a trip to Seattle to celebrate my great-aunt's (aka Sister Maria Lourdes, aka Auntie Choly, aka Holy Choly) jubilee. Since I now live the luxury life of a part-time working mama, I decided to brave a roadtrip with the two kiddos from Lewiston to Bremerton, to spend an extra day with the Gemmer family. Joe--poor working shmuck--would drive over with Mom and Friend Dan--other poor working shmucks--on Friday afternoon.

I didn't want to drive after work on Wednesday because, well, I'm typically sleep deprived and didn't want to ended up dozing off at a freeway rest stop with my two precious children. So, I googled "road trips with toddlers" and came across an article that recommended leaving very, very early in the morning. I warned Sam & Andie that we'd be getting up "in the middle of the night" and getting into the car, where they'd (presumably) sleep until their normal awakening time. I'd have several hours of nonstop peaceful driving, we'd breakfast in Ellensburg, run around and hop back in the car to be in Bremerton by noon.

The next morning, we were in the car by 5am. I sensed my plan wasn't working when Sam popped his eyes open and said, "We going in the car, Mom?". I shushed him, snuggled his blankie around him, buckled him in and said, "Yes, go to sleep."

We'd barely gone a block and the kid was so excited, he couldn't stop pointing out the neighborhood sights: "Look! A tree! Look! A house! We're going to Daisy's house! Look! A bird!"

Needless to say, no one slept on the way to Ellensburg. In fact, no one slept the entire drive.

All was well, though. They were perfect gems. We even managed to amuse ourselves with books and toys and songs for a good three hours before I finally succumbed to the DVD player, so I could read directions and drive in traffic without belting "Itsy Bitsy Spider" at the top of my lungs.

A short seven hours later, we were there.

And so begins our Seattle saga...stay tuned.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Between the stage of having a baby baldspot and the stage of having wild toddler hair, I felt a great sense of mastery in the art of doing my daughter's hair. After a ridiculous amount of practice, I perfected the art of slapping a bow on her sweet head with KY jelly. She was a beautiful (albeit bad-sleepin') baby.

Then, all of a sudden, her hair grew. It grew and it grew and it grew. It grew until it was wild toddler hair. She pulled out all clips, hair elastics, headbands of any sort. Her hair could not be tamed. I became a slacker mom when it came to Andie's hair. Joe would say, "Shouldn't we at least brush it?" I'd shrug my shoulders and say, "Why bother?"

Amy would shake her head at the sight of Andie's unruly mop and admonish me to try harder.

I got her bangs cut in the attempt to keep the hair out of her eyes. It helped...a little.

Last week, we traveled to Seattle to celebrate my great aunt's jubilee. Being a now part-time working woman, I headed over a few days early to see the Gemmers. When Darin heard about my Andie hair issues (I believe my exact words were, "No matter what I do, she pulls her hair out and it's a mess, so why bother?"), he took it as a personal challenge to tame her hair.

So, while I was showering one morning, he sat Andie in front of the TV and a fair bit of crying later, he'd produced the cutest pigtails I'd ever seen.

They stayed in all day, even through nap time.

I'm impressed.

Darin Gemmer, you have given me hope.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It's been a late and bountiful harvest this year. Joe got to nourish his farm roots and work in the fields a few days during harvest. One day, he rod-weeded a field. Sam and I joined him for while and Sam got to help steer the tractor. After that, we hopped out and threw some dirt clods, which was equally fun.

The following day, Joe drove truck and we strapped Sam's carseat into the passenger seat so Sam could take a trip down to the terminal; turns out Sam can fall asleep in the semi just as easily as he can the car.Next year, Andie will be bigger and I might be able to handle two kids in the field...maybe.

Monday, August 22, 2011

confessions of a slacker mom

Here's some food for thought:

"If you're not yelling at your kids, you're not spending enough time with them."--Reese Witherspoon

Hhmmm...I think it might be true. The more I stay at home, the better I am at enforcing boundaries and making the kids do things for themselves. On the flip side, I also have more opportunity to lose my temper in the chaos...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

pretty in pink

How quickly the photo deteriorates...

Friday, August 19, 2011

camping: heading home

Sunday morning, Amy & I packed up while Joe & Brandon took the kids on yet another nature walk. When they retured, Amy lured the kids into the van with the promise of a movie and the rest of us loaded up our camp.

To celebrate our surviving the weekend, Amy treated us to lunch at the Hoodoo Cafe in Harvard. I have to give it rave reviews: good, cheap food; toys for kids to play with; Shark Week was on TV; AND they serve pie.

Next time, we're going to CAMP at Great White Pine campground, PLAY at Laird Park, and EAT at the Hoodoo Cafe--breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Camping: Godzilla

After spending a few hours with Miss Andie, Uncle B gave her a well-deserved nickname:


She sees what she wants. She takes it. If she doesn't get it, she roars.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

camping (yes, it continues)

Uncle B, who understands the hearts' desires of all small children, brought glow sticks for our evening nature walk. (We believe in walking the legs off small children while camping; it helps them sleep at night). On our boring old nature walk, we were... ...SUDDENLY AMBUSHED BY NINJAS! Glory was the only Co-op Kid who managed to destroy her glow stick. Apparently, she's a pro at this, since she previously destroyed one on an earlier summer vacation. She explained to me, quite sweetly, "Ninang, first you have to bend it like this." The next step, a bit of a mystery, involved sticking it in her pants...but who am I to question a master? Serious Kate. A few minutes after this shot was taken, she was ambushed by the ninjas who roped her into their sword fight.

And, messy, messy Andie. She was a ball of dirt, snot, and boogers the entire weekend...and she loved every minute of it!

Here's my favorite sister in the world, who is a kick-in-the pants, even when she's throwing up.

Fortunately, that night, everyone slept fairly well, which makes us all happy campers.